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15 More Ways To Celebrate The Holidays By Helping Animals

Regardless of your faith or how and when you celebrate, the holidays are a great reminder to give back, be grateful, and do some good. I’m going to assume (because you are reading this post) that you love dogs and cats and want to help animals live healthy, happy lives. But maybe you are short on time, money, or energy and aren’t sure how you can make a difference. And let’s face it, it’s easy to get overwhelmed in the face of pet overpopulation, homelessness, indifference and cruelty.

But Ruby and I are here to remind you that you can make a difference – and small changes lead to big changes! Kindness matters!

Last spring I shared ways to celebrate spring by helping animals. This is the winter version and in addition to helping animals in shelters, this list also includes ways to help feral cats and wildlife in winter as well as owned pets and humans in need in your community.

15 Ways To Celebrate the Holidays By Helping Animals in shelters and wildlife in winter

15 Ways To Celebrate The Holidays By Helping Animals

Helping Animals In Shelters

Holiday Foster. Bring a terminally ill or senior shelter pet home for the holidays. Create a fairytale ending and make their final days their best days.

Holiday Fleece Blankets. Gather some kids together and host a no-sew fleece blanket making party for your local shelter or rescue organization. These blankets are super easy even for DIY-challenged folks like me and will provide love and comfort to homeless dogs and cats in shelters.

Holiday Photos. Take holiday photos of adoptable animals in shelters and rescues. Share them widely on social media. Sharing your rescued pet’s story is also a great way to inspire others to adopt.

Holiday Gratitude. Shelter workers face daily heartbreak often for low wages and long hours. They deserve praise and gratitude so why not thank them with gift cards, cookies, and other holiday treats. Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, Christmas Eve is a nice day for a visit to say thank you. We spent part of Christmas Eve last year at Chicago Animal Care & Control and it was pretty incredible.

Helping People and Animals In Need

Holiday Delivery. Deliver food, collars, leads, coats, and blankets to homeless pet owners in your community. Many homeless shelters do not allow pets so these folks truly have very few options for themselves or their animals.

Holiday Check-Ins. Reach out to seniors and other homebound pet guardians in your neighborhood. Walk dogs, clean cat boxes, buy pet food, shovel walks, take pets to the vet/groomer or set up automatic delivery from an online pet supply source.

Holiday Food Pantry. Set up a pet food pantry in your school, workplace, or place of worship. You can also deliver pet food to (or possibly partner with) your local human food pantry.

A feral cat peaking out from a shelter in winter. Here are 15 ways to how to help feral cats and wildlife survive the winter

John E. Heintz Jr/

Helping Wildlife in Winter

Holiday DIY Shelters. Build shelters for feral and community cats to help them survive the winter. Cats can survive the cold as long as they stay dry and have access to food and water. You can find more information on caring for feral cats in winter (including DIY shelter ideas) here.

Holiday Birds. Keep feeding the birds in winter. You can buy feeders or make them. Obviously if you are helping feral cats AND birds this winter, you will want to keep their feeding areas separate (hang bird feeders up high where cats can’t reach them).

Holiday Driving. With shorter days and darker nights, always drive cautiously with wildlife and stray animals in mind. Keep phone numbers for local wildlife rehabbers in your glove compartment and leashes, collars and blankets in your trunk for stray dogs and cats. Always check your car engine to make sure it is free of cats or other animals who may have crawled inside to keep warm.

Holiday Habitat. Nooks and crannies in your yard provide warmth and shelter for wildlife. You can skip the bags and rake your leaves and twigs in piles or build a rock pile in the corner of your yard for winter shelter for chipmunks, mice, frogs, snakes, and insects.

15 ways to help animals in shelters and help wildlife in winter like chipmunks, birds, and feral cats

Margaret M. Stewart/

General Suggestions for Living A More Compassionate Life

Holiday Spirit. Forgo holiday gifts and ask friends and family to make a donation to your favorite animal shelter or wildlife protection organization in your name. Donate your time, money, and skills to help animals in your community.

Holiday Shopping. Make humane shopping choices. Do not buy products or support companies who exploit animals for fur, etc. Only support brands and businesses that are cruelty-free, earth friendly and supportive of animal welfare.

Holiday Veggies. Eat more plant-based foods and reduce  your consumption of meat and dairy. Farm animals are among the most mistreated animals on the planet and factory farms are leading contributors to climate change. Why not give meatless Monday or wild-caught fish Friday a try.

Holiday Resolutions. Choose compassion as one of your 2019 resolutions. Living a compassionate life means different things to different people, figure out what it means for you. Most importantly, be the person your dog (or cat) thinks you are. No matter how the rest of the world sees you in your their eyes you are the coolest, kindest person ever – let’s all try to be that person in 2019!

Please share your thoughts on kindness and the ways you help animals in the comments. For more tips on living a compassionate life and lots of Ruby cuteness, please subscribe to our email list. You can also check out last year’s holiday post about helping animals here.

15 ways to celebrate the holidays by helping animals in need and wildlife in winter




  1. December 7, 2018 / 1:53 am

    my grampy will bring a big box with food and snacks to the shelter pets… and he also has a big box of chocolates for the people who help our friends in need… to encourage them to carry on and to say thank you for their works is impawtant too ;O)

  2. December 7, 2018 / 6:20 am

    Hari Om
    OMD, Ruby and ‘mum’, this is a furbulous listy of thingys to do – not even just for the holidays, but the whole winter season!!! I have taken the liberty of setting up a refer-back post on my ‘Wild YAM’ bloggy for next Thursday cuz I think the words need spreading!!! hugs and wags, YAM-aunty xxx

  3. December 7, 2018 / 6:37 am

    I love all of these suggestions. I especially love Holiday Gratitude and Holiday Delivery. While we love to help animals, we can’t forget about the humans either. As always, fantastic list!

  4. December 7, 2018 / 8:24 am

    Purrfect things to do for the holidays or any old time!

  5. December 7, 2018 / 8:26 am

    We have a corner in our yard where all of the sticks and leaves live. You look so adorable in your Christmas hat, Ruby!

  6. December 7, 2018 / 10:53 am

    Kristin this is a beautiful post…well done my friend. Your writing speaks from the heart of a most kind and loving soul. I love the picture of your and the Amazing Miss M
    Hugs Cecilia
    PS if you want one of the photos that bring you peace please take one.

  7. December 7, 2018 / 11:35 am

    This is such a great post. Our mom brought some stuff to Tabby’s Place and we will be making more donations before the end of the year. It’s nice to remember animals less fortunate than us.

  8. December 7, 2018 / 12:00 pm

    All wonderful things to do. I wish all of them had wonderful forever homes, but alas they don’t.

    Have a fabulous day and weekend. ♥

  9. December 7, 2018 / 12:40 pm

    Fortunate for me, the corporation that I work for matches non-profit donations by it’s employees, and they’ve created a super-easy website to use. However, I’ve noticed at least three of my favorite cat charities that had no listing or incomplete listings on this website. I reached out to each one, and am assisting with getting them set up to get more donations.
    Great post!

  10. December 7, 2018 / 1:07 pm

    This is such a great list. I used to drop off vegan treats for staff and volunteers at our local shelter. They have such challenging work and people often don’t recognize them for all they do for animals.

    I wonder if the local shelter where we’re docked is within walking distance. Hmmm……

  11. December 7, 2018 / 2:01 pm

    You are so right, everybody can heip pets in need.
    My husband and me helped preparing a charity event at the local shelter, and I donated a cake the shelter could sell at the event.

  12. December 7, 2018 / 4:02 pm

    Wonderful ideas to live by all year long. My rescue works closely with a huge city shelter where they work very hard to get animals out and into rescue. Reading this makes me think it would be great to send them some vegan treats on Christmas Eve.

  13. December 7, 2018 / 5:45 pm

    These are all such fantastic ideas! I feel like the holiday season is getting away from me and I’m not accomplishing anything…

  14. December 7, 2018 / 7:37 pm

    There are always things to do to help, that’s why i volunteer at the shelter and other places. Since i can’t give much money, i do what i can (which is mostly clean-up duty!).

  15. December 7, 2018 / 9:40 pm

    This is a great list. If we all did one of these thing over the holidays we would improve many dogs’ lives.

  16. December 7, 2018 / 10:21 pm

    Aww, I love the idea of fostering a senior pet over the holidays. This also helps the shelter staff have fewer animals to care for during what must be a busy time.

  17. 15andmeowing
    December 7, 2018 / 10:51 pm

    Excellent post. If we all try to do even one thing, it will help.

  18. December 7, 2018 / 11:05 pm

    Some of the pet stores here run a coat drive during the winter. I’ll have to dig through Mr. N’s stash and see what we can donate. It’s too chilly here for small dogs and humans without coats!

  19. December 7, 2018 / 11:17 pm

    These are all wonderful ideas for helping! Thanks

  20. impurrfectlife
    December 8, 2018 / 2:28 pm

    What a wonderful post for the holidays and helping animals. Will be sharing. I am doing my part by sharing the word and also fostering as well. I’m so happy to share my journey and just got word my foster has been adopted. It’s hard to see them go but warms my heart to know he has a forever home.

  21. Idaho PugRanch
    December 8, 2018 / 3:17 pm

    What wonderful ideas! There is a pet food drive going on her right now to help the local shelter and humane society and we will be donating.

  22. December 8, 2018 / 5:28 pm

    This is a great list. Having worked at a shelter for quite a few years I love the idea of bringing gifts for the workers too.

  23. December 8, 2018 / 7:08 pm

    Fantastic post and I so believe in giving back where possible. We recently in the building I live in got together and put together over 2 garbage bags of toys plus other things to give to the fire victims in Northern California and it was such a great feeling. I also cleared out all my bags of treats that Layla did not want and sent to them.

  24. December 8, 2018 / 9:01 pm

    These are wonderful suggestions (as always!) Sometimes a small gesture might not seem like a lot, but it can make a big difference!

  25. Marjorie Dawson
    December 9, 2018 / 12:22 pm

    A lovely and helpful post. I like the idea of having the rescue numbers to hand. You never know WHEN you might need to call one fast if you have a cold animal to deal with.

  26. December 9, 2018 / 1:07 pm

    Those are very usefull tips and we’re all purrepared in our garden for the guests. Granny hopes that some come over to sleep here, like we had in our other house 🙂 Pawkisses for a Happy Sunday to all of you🐾😽💞

  27. December 9, 2018 / 4:33 pm

    I love this list and am sharing with people to my Facebook right now. We all can do something – and together what a huge wave of love for the animals in need.

  28. meowmeowmans
    December 9, 2018 / 5:01 pm

    Yes to all of these wonderful ideas! I especially love the idea of holiday check-ins and holiday pantry!

  29. December 9, 2018 / 5:34 pm

    Lots of awesome recommendations. This should be the season of love and giving.

  30. December 9, 2018 / 5:52 pm

    These are fantastic ideas! Thanks for sharing how we can all help animals. I feed birds all year & I have a simple heater for the bird bath. They love it & we love to watch them in the water!
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  31. December 9, 2018 / 11:29 pm

    These are all amazing suggestions, not just for the holiday season, but all year through. I love the idea of photographing shelter pets to share, and making blankets. Could have a fun holiday blanket-making party with treats for the humans and then the finished blankets for the shelter pets. I love that! We just donated our airline kennels, auto ramp, and toys to our local shelter and I’m preparing to send a box of new-to-gently used toys to a friend who rescues special needs Huskies. I’m Pinning this great article to share!

  32. December 10, 2018 / 7:28 am

    What wonderful ideas. I still volunteer with Colorado Pet Pantry – so important to think of others’ needs for their pets. Thanks for publishing this!!

  33. December 10, 2018 / 1:16 pm

    Those are all great suggestions for the holidays, and for all year long ! Purrs

  34. Sweet Purrfections
    December 10, 2018 / 10:24 pm

    I need to do more for needy pets during the holidays and throughout the year. I have good intentions, but life tends to get in the way!

  35. December 12, 2018 / 1:34 pm

    Such a wonderful post that I am going to bookmark and revisit all year long!!!

  36. December 20, 2018 / 4:40 pm

    Oh wow these are all such pawesome ways to help our furiends in da community!!

    Matt & Matilda

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